Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home & Hillcrest Mausoleum & Memorial Park
7405 West Northwest Highway, Dallas, TX
Mary Lee Cox
November 26, 1934 – September 19, 2019
Obituary for Mary Lee Cox
Mary Lee Cox was born on November 26, 1934, in Houston, Texas, (but she got to Dallas as fast as she could). Her parents were Joseph Marion Iley and Vencie Sedita Iley. Mary Lee came to Dallas when she was about 5 and started school shortly thereafter. Mary Lee was very gifted in class and because of this she was double promoted twice (first to third grade and sixth to eighth grade). She attend North Dallas High School and upon graduation enrolled at North Texas State University to be in its music program (as a singer). Mary Lee had the chance to sing with Pat Boone and others. After her time at North Texas, Mary Lee attended SMU. During her first year of law school at SMU, she met the love of her life, William D. (Bill) Cox, Jr., and they ended up getting married in 1959 (Mary Lee only went to law school for one year and while Bill attended his final two years of law school, Mary Lee earned two masters’ degrees in speech and English). Bill and Mary Lee had four children: Michele, Therese, Bill and Joe. Once the kids were born, Mary Lee threw herself into the world of charity and made a lifetime of helping others.
Mary Lee likely has served as president of more organizations than any other single Dallas volunteer. She served as president of the Women's Board of the Dallas Opera; Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden; Friday Forum; Les Femmes du Monde; Dallas Ballet Women's Committee; Dallas Southern Memorial Association; Society for Abandoned and Neglected Children; Irish Georgian Society; Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge; Women's Division of the American Kidney Foundation; Highland Park Browning Club; Theresians of Dallas; Jesuit Women's Auxiliary; Public Affairs Luncheon Club; Conservancy Founding Board of the Dallas Southern Memorial Association; and Dallas Theater Center Guild. She also has been Honorary President of the Dallas Woman's Forum. In 2013, Mary Lee was honored with Les Femmes du Monde’s 2013 Woman of the Year award for having devoted the last 50 years of her life serving the arts and charities of Dallas. Finally, in 2017 she was President of KidneyTexas.
Further, Mary Lee also chaired or co-chaired dozens of charity and arts benefits including: The 2013 Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary Annual Fashion Show & Luncheon; Dickens of a Christmas for the Dallas Theater; Retina Foundation of the Southwest’s Racing for Sight; Science Place Guild; the first benefit of Dallas Baptist University’s Women’s Board; Christ the King’s Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon; Old City Park’s Candlelight Dinners; Dallas Ballet’s Irish Fair; and the Genesis Mother-Daughter Luncheon. Furthermore, Mary Lee was a member of the Hockaday School’s 2010 benefit committee, season ticket chair for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League during the first year “sold out” season at the Meyerson and chairman of the Symphony Show House. Mary Lee also was a member of the World Cup Committee, planning Frontier Dallas, and chairman of the Science Place Guild’s 25th anniversary gala. She was also Regent of Catholic Daughters of America, Court 1784 and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. Mary Lee also represented Dallas charities in other cities, such as when she was representative at the American Symphony Orchestra Meeting in Chicago and the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge as representative at the FFVF Conference in Valley Forge, Pa. As a board member, Mary Lee has served Northwood University; Old City Park; the Grace & Storey Stemmons Girls Foundation; the Dallas Knife and Fork Club; the Dallas Summer Musicals; and she served on the advisory board of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.
There are other organizations that Mary Lee helped over her 50 plus years of charity work, but we think you get the picture from all that is listed above. We will say one final service was her service as the President of Dallas Lawyers Auxiliary and as Guest Columnist of Dallas Bar Headnotes.
One other noteworthy feat of Mary Lee was her unending support of the Grand Jury in Dallas. Mary Lee served many terms on the Grand Jury and made numerous lasting friendships at the courthouse as a result of her service. She was fair-minded and had a keen eye for justice.
In her later years, Mary Lee had a ministry of handing out blessed saints medals to anyone who drew near enough to hear her southern drawl and get a dose of her southern charm (Msgr. Zimmerman at Christ the King Catholic Church blessed hundreds of medals for Mary Lee). When Mary Lee was not giving out medals or volunteering, she was being a wonderful grandmother and biggest cheerleader for her 9 grandchildren: Courtney and Lauren Rourk (Therese and Chris Rourk); Bill IV, Matthew and Caroline Cox (Bill Cox); and Joseph, David, Stephen and Audrey Cox (Joe and Emily Cox).
Mary Lee was predeceased by her husband, William D. Cox, Jr., and her daughter, Michele Cox, as well as her parents, Joseph and Vencie Iley, and her three siblings: James Iley, John Iley and Joan Emerson.
Mary Lee led a life well-lived and found joy in everyone she met. She made all feel welcome in her home and she could put all at ease with her southern drawl and charm. She will be dearly missed but we know that she is in heaven with her beloved Bill Jr. and her sweet daughter Michele.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the charity of your choice in her honor or one of Mary Lee’s favorite charities: KidneyTexas, Salvation Army, Retina Foundation of the Southwest, Public Affairs Luncheon Club or the William D. Cox, Jr. Foundation Scholarship Fund at Jesuit College Preparatory School.
- Visitation & Rosary Service Friday, September 27, 2019
- Funeral Mass Saturday, September 28, 2019
- Reception Saturday, September 28, 2019
- Interment Saturday, September 28, 2019
Mary Lee Cox
October 1, 2019
Mary Lee touched the lives of all she knew and her zest for life was incomparable. She will remain in our hearts and in our memories forever. A bright light has gone out and will be missed so much! !
September 24, 2019
Michele, Therese, Bill, and Joe were my childhood friends. Mary Lee always treated me and my sister like family. I would be ringing their doorbell at 7:00am on Saturday morning, of course they were asleep. Mary Lee would answer the door, and never once did she ever snap at me. She was one sweet person.
September 23, 2019
Mary Lee was the most outstanding and hard working person for all things Dallas. She worked hard so so many great causes. She was not the type to do it for recognition, she did it out of the need she saw. I was amazed with all she did and all she accomplished.
We have all lost a one of a kind lady..... Mary Lee will be missed!!
September 22, 2019
Mary Lee will be missed by so many. She was such an integral part of so many causes/missions. I enjoyed our long conversations, a quick call with a "great idea", but most of all our friendship! I will forever remember that twinkle in her eye and that precious smile. My thoughts and prayers are with Therese and Mary Lee's family and friends for comfort and peace.
Donna Arp Weitzman
September 22, 2019
Mary Lee Cox was such a wonderful friend, full
of humor and fun. Her positive personality was infectious. I will always remember dear Mary Lee with great affection and love.
Sybil (Fain) Cotnoir
September 22, 2019
When I pledged Kappa Delta at NTSU many years ago, you were my mentor.
You were ONE OF A KIND,
Mary Lee, you had a gentle spirit, an infectious laugh, and stars in your eyes.
Heaven is brighter because you are there.
September 22, 2019
Rest in peace sweet Mary Lee. You were a ball of fire, igniting faith hope and generosity to so many. Thank you for all you did to help me, encourage me, and for all the things I never knew you did! Your soul lives on an eternity now and your awesome baton on earth has been passed to your fabulous family. In love and condolences, Kathy and Alan Stewart